Ever since I heard about it, I’ve been very interested to read Sarah Vowell’s book, Assassination Vacation. When my name finally floated up to the top of the library’s reservation queue, I rushed over to check out a copy.
The book covers a bit of Vowell’s fascination with the assassinations of American Presidents. Apparently, she spends a good portion of her time traveling around the nation visiting sites both closely and tangentially related to the dead and their killers. Quite frankly, the book isn’t nearly as funny as I expected that it would be. Given Vowell’s funny and insightful stories and commentary on This American Life, I expected that her writing would closely mirror her radio work.
Unfortunately, while her writing is insightful and interesting, it just isn’t very funny. Even though I could hear her distinctive voice in my head while reading the book, the text on the page just didn’t strike me as unceasingly funny.
While the book isn’t likely to supply a laugh trck to a hit sitcom any time soon, I would still recommend it. Vowell’s commentary on how American society produces, nutures, and then shuns assassins is insightful. Her abbreviated history of how McKinley and Garfield were first elected, and then gunned down is something that most people probably don’t know. If nothing else, readers can get an easy-to-swallow dose of American history from reading the book.